What is green cleaning?
Green cleaning can be defined as “effective cleaning that protects health without harming the environment."
The federal government first defined “green” and “environmentally preferred purchasing” as “…products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products and services that serve the same purpose” with Executive Order 13101 in 1998.
This executive order has subsequently been superseded since 2007 by Executive Order 13423, which places additional emphasis on issues of sustainability and also considers product life cycles. A holistic approach to green cleaning will incorporate solutions that consider human health and environmental impacts in a way that thoughtfully addresses:
• products, equipment and tools
• processes and procedures
• commitment to continuous improvement
Are green products more expensive?
Initially, Green products and systems were typically sold at a premium. As demand increased by users and choosers and more manufacturers embraced sustainable initiatives, “green” products and systems became more cost neutral when compared to similar products. Today, almost all new products and systems launched by manufacturers have been carefully evaluated on their environmental and health impact. Many times “green” products can bring overall cost savings to an organization.
Are “green” products less effective or low in quality?
No. Executive Order 13101 and 13423 mandates that “green” certified products possess the same attributes when competing with “non-green” products. The industry recognized non-profit third party certification organizations also regulate the effectiveness and quality standards.
Do sustainable practices really provide health and safety benefits for tenants, customers, and/or employees?
Yes. Numerous studies have been done by multiple property management organizations, product manufacturers and service industry professionals that conclude that utilization of “green” products and systems can positively affect areas of absenteeism, preteism, turnover and employee satisfaction.
Does green cleaning really make a difference?
How buildings are cleaned and the products that are used can significantly impact the health and performance of building occupants and cleaning staff. Choices in cleaning products, equipment and procedures also dramatically impact the lifespan of building materials and furnishings while preserving the environment.
How can I tell if it’s working?
To successfully implement a Green Cleaning program, start small and expand with success, which can be measured in many ways; for instance tracking the number of toxic chemicals eliminated, calculating cost and purchasing efficiencies, identifying how risks have been reduced or avoided, or even measuring occupants and cleaning staff satisfaction. The important thing is to determine from the beginning how you plan to evaluate the program and set up a practical way to capture the data.
Can I adopt green cleaning and still meet public health and infection-control standards?
This is a common concern and one which can be addressed by striking a balance between germ control, which is important in the environment, and the environmental impact of disinfectant use, which kills all microbes – even helpful ones. Certain “touch points” (such as doorknobs, phone receivers, keyboards, remotes and certain food service areas) require the use of disinfectants; however, for most other situations, routine cleaning is sufficient.
What kind of time and training is required?
The amount and type of training will depend on your specific organization's needs. Each segment is different. A schools requirement will be different than an office building. A JanPak sales professional will gladly assist you in setting up a customized training program to meet your company's specific needs.
Who needs to be involved?
Green cleaning programs are most successful when you have the input and commitment of many stakeholders, including administrators, business owners, facility operators, custodial staff, employees, tenants, and contract services providers. Communication is critical throughout the process so everyone understands how he or she contributes to the program’s success.